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Regent in Agriculture
Rick (left) and Pam Davis enjoy participating in OSU Homecoming activities and supporting the Cowboys. Photo by Ashely Judge. From harvesting fields in Logan County to donning the robes of an Oklahoma A&M Regent, Rick Davis has spent a large portion of his life involved in agriculture and Oklahoma State University. Appointed by Gov. Mary Fallin to the Oklahoma A&M Board of Regents in 2011, the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources alumnus said his responsibilities go far beyond his involvement with the university. Davis and his two brothers, Kenny and Steve, manage Davis Farms of Guthrie, a family-owned-and-operated business. “My parents raised my brothers and me on our farming operation, and from my earliest memories, it was always a team effort,” Davis said. “We were taught at an early age that we all had strengths and things we offered to the operation that made us both unique and valuable to the family business.” Davis has a long history of involvement with agriculture, including serving as the 1979-80 Oklahoma FFA Secretary and the 1980-81 Oklahoma FFA President. “FFA was for me, as it is for many young people, a key part of my early life,” Davis said. “The years of serving as a state FFA officer were blessings. It allowed me to meet so many different people across our state and to develop lifelong friendships that have meant so much.” A 1983 graduate of OSU, Davis received his Bachelor of Science in agricultural economics. He said he credits a big portion of his professional success to the education he received at OSU and the activities in which he was involved. “I always felt like my time in the college of agriculture was time spent with like-minded people who were like a community of friends,” Davis said. “As students, we were encouraged to be active outside the classroom, which was a very beneficial lesson to learn and one that has benefited me and other students who have gone through CASNR throughout the years.” While pursuing his degree, Davis met his wife, Pam, who earned her OSU degree in elementary education. Their son, Ben, graduated from OSU with a degree in agribusiness. Their daughter, Emily, played basketball at Oklahoma City University and has a degree in education. Davis was a member of FarmHouse Fraternity at OSU. He said some of his favorite memories were made with his FarmHouse “brothers.” “My fondest memory was my initiation into FarmHouse,” Davis said. “The members were like a band of brothers. That group of individuals has played a huge part in my life.” The entire Davis family has shown huge support for the university, Pam Davis said. Kenny and Steve Davis also graduated from OSU in agricultural economics before they pursued law degrees. Kenny Davis said despite their busy lives, they still manage to make the family farm run as successfully as possible. “While there are, of course, many challenges along the way,” Davis said, “the benefit of having such a close-knit group of ‘partners’ far outweighs any negatives that come with such a structure. “It’s hard for me to visualize my life without the blessings that have come as a result of raising my family side by side with my brothers’ families on the farm,” he added. As a regent, Davis said he enjoys overseeing the university he and his family love most. He said his job consists of working with leaders from OSU and its affiliate schools to create budgets, work on risk management, and plan for the future, while making the college experience valuable for every student. “I have the opportunity to work as a team with the other members of the board to provide the best quality education possible at the most affordable prices possible to the students at our institutions,” Davis said. “On a personal level, I must say it was a joy and very rewarding to have served as chairman of the board this past year. It was a unique opportunity I was thankful to experience.” Davis has shown leadership and dedication to the quality of education students receive at all A&M institutions, said Lou Watkins, Board of Regents member. “One thing I have noticed working with Rick is you can see the agricultural training he received through FFA,” Watkins said. “He presides over meetings in such a professional manner, and his parliamentary procedure is flawless. He is really an outstanding leader.” Davis said when he is not farming, he spends five hours a week working toward his Regent responsibilities. While serving as the chairman of the board last year, Davis said he dedicated at least 20 hours a week to his duties on the board. “Our single largest responsibility on the board is to staff OSU and its affiliate schools with the best administration and work force possible,” Davis said. “We are the policy makers, but we also try and stay out of the way of our institutions making their own decisions.” Even with all the Davis family does for OSU, nothing is more important to any of them than their family values, agricultural roots and faith, Davis said. This was instilled in him and his brothers at a young age, he added. Growing up on the family farm taught the Davis men responsibility and the value of hard work, Kenny Davis said. They have tried to instill these same core principles in their children because they believe them to be vital to success, he said. “The environment we grew up in was one in which we not only lived together but also worked together,” Kenny Davis said. “Personally, I have tried to continue that trend in my own family by getting my kids involved on the farm and also being active with them in their extracurricular activities such as sports and FFA.” Davis attributes many of the values and traits he holds in the highest regard to his upbringing on the farm. He said his parents and their faith have been big contributors to his family’s way of life. “I do believe it is a result of my upbringing and the things in life that my parents tried to stress to my brothers and me that were important,” Davis said. “We were taught from an early age to try to live our lives in a manner that would please our heavenly Father.” Pam Davis said her husband tries to carry these values into what he accomplishes for OSU as a Regent. She said he focuses on making the OSU experience exceptional for every single student who sets foot on campus. “Rick is committed to God first and foremost,” Pam Davis said. “He’s committed to his family and very humble. His humility comes from knowing we do nothing on our own and we have a creator to thank for everything.” Watkins said she also sees Rick’s agricultural roots and values in the work he does for the board on a daily basis. She said even though he is fair to all the colleges within the A&M system, she can tell he has a strong love for production agriculture and farming. “His passion and love is agriculture and that comes through,” Watkins said. “As we are becoming more and more aware, we need commitment like Rick’s in both the United States and throughout the world.” Even with everything Davis has achieved as a state FFA officer, an agribusinessman and now a Regent, his love and passion are based in the grass roots and upbringing he holds close. Because of these morals, Rick and Pam Davis love OSU and its family atmosphere so much, he said. “We are a part of the OSU family, and the people we have met here have changed our lives,” Pam Davis said. “The family feeling of this campus and the friends we have made here keep us rooted to this institution and everything it stands for.” By: Author: Ashley Judge
Fri, 03 Nov 2017 08:15:19 -0500
Garey Fox conducts research on flow and sediment transport in streams. Photo by Todd Johnson. rom a first-generation college student from a small Texas town to a nationally recognized water researcher and professor, Oklahoma State University biosystems and agricultural engineering professor Garey Fox serves the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources in many roles. In addition to prestigious awards and accreditations, Fox has an unyielding passion to see students succeed, said Steve Damron, CASNR assistant dean. “His work with undergraduate students is the best example of his dedication,” Damron said. “He works continually with undergraduate research scholars, and that takes a lot of effort, but he feels strongly that effort is worthwhile.” As one of only 35 graduates from Godley High School in 1994, Fox said he was the first of his family to leave the farm and go to college. Garey Fox and his former doctoral student Erin Porter conduct a jet erosion test. Photo by Todd Johnson. “I really had no idea what I wanted to do in school,” Fox said, “but I knew I was really good at math and science. I got some large FFA scholarships through Texas FFA that required me to go to a public school in Texas and major in something agriculture-related.” At that time, Texas A&M University had an agricultural engineering program. Fox chose the engineering path, and he said he found his passion for research during his undergraduate years. “I got connected with a faculty member while I was there who asked me if I wanted to do research with him, and I was like, ‘Wow, they’ll pay you to do that?’” Fox said he enjoyed doing research as an undergraduate student and decided to earn his master’s degree on a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency graduate fellowship, which he said is a prestigious national fellowship for master’s and doctoral students in environmentally related fields of study. After graduating from TAMU with a master’s degree in agricultural engineering in 2000, Fox continued his studies as a doctoral student in civil engineering at Colorado State University. Fox said he decided he wanted to go into academia while he was obtaining his doctoral degree. “It turned out to be the best thing I’ve ever done,” he said. “My passion is being in the classroom, field or laboratory, interacting with students, watching them grow, and seeing their accomplishments. It’s a real pleasure.” Fox joined the OSU BAE department in 2006 and continued his research and teaching. The National Science Foundation, U.S. Geological Survey, EPA and USDA have supported his research of stream and aquifer interaction through competitive grant funds. “His work with accreditation in his department is absolutely stellar,” Damron said. “He’s recognized nationally as an expert on assessment as it’s done in engineering, and I think that’s quite remarkable.” While he may be a research expert, teaching and interacting with students are where Fox truly shines, said Whitney Lisenbee, a BAE master’s student. “Everyone knows if Dr. Fox is teaching it’s going to be a good class,” she said. “He’s been my professor, research mentor, Cowboy Waterworks club adviser, senior design adviser and overall role model for nearly six years. “Although he wears many hats, he is still available for ‘life talks’ with his students and wants us to succeed,” she added. Fox said he wants to ensure when his students graduate they are prepared for what they are going to do outside of OSU. “I challenge them every single day,” he said. “When I was in school, I had a lot of professors who didn’t challenge me much. I don’t remember them, but I do remember the ones who cared about students and challenged them.” When Fox came to Stillwater, he wanted to make OSU “the” water place, he said. One of the ways he has worked toward this goal is by creating and implementing the annual Student Water Conference, which is designed specifically for students to present their research and receive feedback. “Last year,” Fox said, “we had students from Hawaii, Washington, Connecticut, Iowa and across the U.S. who came to present their research. It’s become a nationally known conference.” Damron said Fox’s creation of the Student Water Conference is not only innovative but also ambitious. “When you consider all of Dr. Fox’s contributions outside the classroom and add that he’s an outstanding classroom teacher, you have a true contributor, not only to the discipline and its students but also to the college and the university,” Damron said. “Garey Fox is a force to be reckoned with in higher education,” he added. Fox recently received the national USDA Excellence in Teaching award, which is given to two recipients among all land-grant institutions each year. “This national teaching award is a tremendous honor,” Fox said, “not only for me personally, but also for BAE and DASNR, as well. “I am thankful for the opportunity to go to work each day and do something I love,” he added. “This recognition should be shared with my family, who serve as my foundation and support, and my previous and current graduate and undergraduate students who make teaching and research so enjoyable.” Last year, Shida Heneberry, director of the OSU Master of International Agriculture program, received the same award. This marks the first time in history any university has won this award in two consecutive years. However, Fox said he tried never to focus on the end goal. “The awards are great,” he said. “They are very nice recognitions, but they’re not something absolutely necessary for my career. My point has always been ‘Do you enjoy it every day?’ “I love my job,” he said. “I can only see myself in academia, where I can interact with students and contribute to their education.” Gary (right) accepts the USDA Excellence in Teaching award from Jay T. Akridge of Purdue University. Photo Courtesy of APLU. By: Author: Tory Dwyer
Fri, 03 Nov 2017 08:15:19 -0500
Protecting America’s Plate
Food safety inspectors make up the largest portion of the Food Safety and Inspection Service’s employees with more than 7,500 nationwide, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Photo by Kaitlyn Sanson. Each year, 48 million people get sick from foodborne illnesses in the U.S. alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Food safety is a major issue,” said Ranjith Ramanathan, an assistant professor who teaches food science courses in the Oklahoma State University Department of Animal Science. “Every day, we hear about foodborne outbreaks. The consumers are really worried about what to buy, what to do, what not to eat.” Because of this growing need for food safety professionals, OSU has established one of the first undergraduate degree options focused on food safety, said Ravirajsinh Jadeja, assistant professor and food safety specialist at OSU. “Students can come to OSU, major in food science with a food safety option, and graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree, qualified to get a job in the food safety area,” said Clint Rusk, head of the OSU Department of Animal Science. OSU’s food safety option puts more emphasis on quality control versus microbiology like other schools, which makes the program unique, Ramanathan said. “With this food safety option, we are training more students so they can help the industry,” Ramanathan said. The push for the food safety option began with the Oklahoma food industry, Rusk said. Through input from the Robert M. Kerr Food and Agricultural Products Center’s advisory board, OSU recognized the need to develop students specialized and trained in food safety, Rusk said. “Support for the food safety option grew all the way up to President Burns Hargis,” Rusk said. The department jumped on board, Rusk said, and began the interview process for the first faculty position within the food safety program. Jadeja started in January 2015. “We were very impressed with Dr. Jadeja’s background and just as impressed with his personality,” Rusk said. “We felt he would interact well with students.” Jadeja said he was interested in coming to OSU for this program because he wanted a career where he could work with the industry and teach students. “OSU has state-of-the-art facilities, a really good program and is already working closely with the industry,” Jadeja said. Although the food safety option is less than a year old, the department is moving quickly and already has received approval for the curriculum, Rusk said. The curriculum includes a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point course to go in-depth with HACCP training, which all processing plants require, said Deborah VanOverbeke, an animal science professor who teaches food science courses. Classes involving sanitation as well as other quality-control classes also are being developed in the department, VanOverbeke said. “Companies have a shortage of people working in the sanitation crew,” Jadeja said. “That’s why they need properly trained and equipped people who can take care of the job. This sanitation course is going to help the students.” Companies are required to document their processes to ensure the food they produce is safe, Rusk said, and those companies need people trained in this documenting process. “We all want a safe food supply,” Rusk said. “When we go to lunch, we expect it to be safe. None of us want to get sick.” Jadeja said the curriculum currently includes at least five new classes, two of which Jadeja taught in Fall 2015. “The food safety option really puts into place people who have the background and exposure to auditing, food microbiology and quality-control systems, so they can hit the ground running in a production facility,” VanOverbeke said. The career opportunities for this option range from production to processing systems to marketing for food retail or restaurants, VanOverbeke said. Since Oklahoma food companies came to OSU asking directly for students with these specific qualifications, they will look to OSU for employees graduating with this option, she said. Jadeja said his position includes both teaching and extension, which gives him the opportunity to work closely with the Oklahoma food industry and take students with him when he goes on industry visits. “Jadeja’s expected to leave campus, visit companies, and work with those companies,” Rusk said. “So, for the students to be able to go with the professor to visit the companies they will potentially work for, how many other majors get to do that?” Jadeja said he taught a class for Fall 2015, Oklahoma Food Industry Experiences, in which students visited different companies statewide within the food production industry. “If students have some exposure and some knowledge of the companies, it makes them more capable of coming in and running from day one versus trying to learn the system from the get-go,” VanOverbeke said. Rusk said numerous jobs will be available in the food industry, which makes the food safety option such an exciting opportunity for students. “When you look at the food science major,” VanOverbeke said, “we’re always going to eat. It’s one of those majors where jobs aren’t going to come and go as the economy changes. Jobs are always going to be there.” As the food science major continues to be promoted through the college, the food safety option will grow because of the various paths students can take that help set them apart from other students, VanOverbeke said. “Students really need to know what the need is,” Ramanathan said. “People are not really aware of the exciting career opportunities. If we promote food science, especially food safety, then there are a lot of job opportunities.” As the world’s population grows and more food is consumed, more companies will demand food safety graduates, Rusk said, and OSU is one of the places to come to pursue the food safety field. The food safety area is up-and-coming and offers great opportunities to help with food safety issues, he added. “There will be opportunities in almost every state with this major in addition to other countries who will seek food safety experts,” Rusk said.
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Loyal and True Leaders
One of Kyle Hilbert’s duties as SGA president is to approve or veto all bills. Photo by Karli Quinn. Kyle Hilbert and Taylor Dennis were an unlikely pair to represent the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. Fate and a mutual friend brought together the pair who would become the president and vice president, respectively, of the Oklahoma State University Student Government Association for 2015-16. An agricultural economics senior from Depew, Okla., Hilbert grew up a fan of the University of Oklahoma, but via Oklahoma FFA, he found his way to OSU. Dennis, an environmental science senior from Choctaw, Okla., started as a biology major in the OSU College of Arts and Sciences. At the end of her freshman year, she changed her major and decided to pursue her degree in CASNR. “After spending my first year at OSU and learning about all the degree plans they have to offer, I was attracted to environmental science, which landed me in CASNR,” Dennis said. The two students found each other through Alexis Wiebe, an agricultural economics senior, Hilbert said. Past SGA leaders thought the pair should pursue the top SGA positions, he said. “Friends told us we would be a good pair and we should consider running,” Hilbert said. “We were both totally blindsided by it. We hadn’t thought about it.” The pair accepted the challenge to run for SGA president and vice president in the electronic, campuswide election. Hilbert and Dennis were not convinced to run for their offices purely by the faith of others, Dennis said. “We decided we actually did have good reasons to run other than just because our friends told us to,” Hilbert said. “We thought ‘We can help make OSU a better place, so let’s do it.’” Hilbert and Dennis were familiar with SGA because Hilbert served as a CASNR senator in Fall 2013 and Dennis served as the sustainability committee chair. Being students in CASNR has shaped Hilbert and Dennis and has influenced their role in SGA, Hilbert said. “Whenever a bill comes forward, I think of it through the lens of being involved in a student organization, which for me is under CASNR,” Hilbert said. “In that sense, CASNR influences just about everything. It has shaped me in being prepared for this position because nearly all my involvement was in the college.” Hilbert’s campus involvement has included serving as a CASNR Ambassador for the past three years as well as serving on the CASNR Student Council. He also served as an Oklahoma FFA officer. Dennis said she sees CASNR’s role differently than Hilbert. “SGA led me to CASNR, and CASNR definitely is an influence in my overall college experience,” Dennis said. Part of CASNR’s inspiration for both students comes from their mentors: Rob Terry, head of the OSU Department of Agricultural Education, Communications and Leadership, and Brian J. Carter, plant and soil sciences professor who serves as the director of CASNR’s environmental sciences interdisciplinary program. “It is very usual for me to drop in Dr. Terry’s office and sit and talk for 30-plus minutes,” Hilbert said. “He’ll give me advice about life and listen to what students are thinking about.” Terry has known Hilbert since the 21-year-old was in high school. Terry said he admires Hilbert’s ability to carry himself with ease, comparing Hilbert to a duck on water: On the surface, he always appears to be at ease, but he is hard at work below the surface. “His approach is ‘This is something I get to do, not something I have to do,’” Terry said. Terry, who has taught agricultural education for nearly 30 years, said he appreciates Hilbert’s work ethic and attitude. “Kyle is easily in the top 1 percent of young people with whom I have worked,” Terry said, “and I have had the pleasure to work with some really outstanding people, great folks who have gone on to do wonderful things.” For 22-year-old Dennis, her first impression of CASNR came through Carter, her adviser, who also has served as her professor for multiple courses. “Before CASNR, I never had my adviser also as a professor,” Dennis said. “I admire Dr. Carter in so many ways and appreciate being able to drop by his office at any moment and he is willing to talk.” Carter said he admires Dennis’ leadership roles and looks to her as an influential student and peer to all. “The interdisciplinary nature of the undergraduate environmental science program within CASNR strengthens Taylor’s ability to quickly obtain opinions from a wide range of backgrounds from social to physical sciences,” Carter said. Dennis said she appreciates her college journey and her past experiences that led her to CASNR. “I had never seen this type of tight-knit community before joining CASNR,” Dennis said. Thomas Coon, vice president, dean and director of the OSU Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, said he takes pride in how Hilbert and Dennis represent the college. “In a way, it is not a surprise to me at all that we would have two of our students in leadership at this university,” Coon said. “It is a real point of pride for us because that is not something we did. That is something Kyle and Taylor did. “We are very proud they chose to come to OSU and chose to be students in our college,” he said. “We are proud of what they are doing as leaders at OSU.” Taylor Dennis (left) and Kyle Hilbert dedicate their time to the university by serving as 2015-16 SGA president and vice president. Photo by Karli Quinn. By: Author: Karli Quinn
Fri, 03 Nov 2017 08:15:19 -0500
From Kitchen to Shelf
The Robert M. Kerr Food and Agricultural Products Center has conducted Basic Training since 1999. Photo Courtesy of FAPC. If you ever wished everyone could try your grandma’s secret recipe, a program at Oklahoma State University can create that opportunity. The Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center is home to helpful, value-added programs, but one distinct program is the Basic Training workshop, said Mandy Gross, FAPC communications services manager. This program is a day-long course to teach participants how to commercialize their homemade products with the help of FAPC. Basic Training occurs every other month and costs $175. It includes a luncheon, speakers from the Oklahoma Health Department and the Made in Oklahoma program, and a trademark expert. The class enrolls up to 24 potential clients interested in learning more about commercializing their food products. “During the class, everything is laid out for the clients to show what it takes to start a business,” Gross said. Some workshop topics include the cost of doing business, food regulations and how to target customers, she said. “Usually only 10 percent of the Basic Training graduates will take their product any further,” she said. “Often, the entrepreneurs do not understand what it takes to start a food business before attending the workshop.” Suan Grant of Suan’s Inc. attended Basic Training in February 2009. “I had a good product, but I didn’t know how to get it to market,” Grant said. “They knew how to get it to market. They were with me every step of the way and still are today.” If clients want to take their products to market after attending Basic Training, they meet with an FAPC food scientist and an FAPC business and marketing associate for scale-up, Gross said. A scale-up is the process of taking a recipe and making it in the test kitchen for the recipe to be converted into the appropriate units for large batches. Darren Scott, FAPC food scientist and sensory specialist, meets with clients at this point. Once clients decide to pursue commercialization of their products, the entrepreneurs discuss their products with Scott. The clients go to the test kitchen to make their products. “We make up a small batch that is typically made the same way it is made at home,” he said. “The key difference is we are taking weights of everything.” This way, the recipe can be converted into a large-scale batch for mass production, Scott said. Once ingredients have been weighed and measured, the client is taken to the industrial-sized kitchen to make a big batch of the product. “We really see here if the product changes in any drastic way or if there are any problems with a difference in taste,” Scott said. Frequently, clients will notice changes in taste or consistency first, Scott said. This provides a great time to address these issues and see if anything can be done to make the product as similar as possible to the original, he said. Erin Johnson, FAPC business and marketing client coordinator, said changes are frequently needed in the recipe before the product is taken to mass production. “Often, the recipe will have extra water to account for cooking it on a stove top where the heat comes from the bottom,” she said. “When the client uses our steam-jacketed kettles, that extra water can change the recipe.” The main goal of the program is to help mix the culinary art with the necessary science, Johnson said. “Once we have finished in the kitchen, Erin will then take them aside to discuss a marketing and business strategy,” Scott said. Clients then decide whether they want to produce and package their own product or if they want to use a co-packer, Johnson said. A co-packer is a contract packer that markets and packages goods for other companies, she said. More than likely, clients will choose to use a co-packer for efficiency, she said. However, some clients may choose to build their own industrial kitchen and start from scratch, she said. “Whether they use a co-packer or begin their business on their own, we can help them make the best decision for their business,” Johnson said. Grant said the availability of entrepreneurship experts in FAPC makes this program special. “They are there if you have questions, and if they don’t have answers, they know who does,” Grant said. “They are an asset to the state of Oklahoma. By: Author: Rosemary Giannini
Fri, 03 Nov 2017 08:15:19 -0500
OSU physicists land $1.266 million grant from Department of Energy
Alexander Khanov, Satya Nandi, Joe Haley, Flera Rizatdinova, Kaladi Babu Five high energy physicists from the Oklahoma State University Department of Physics have secured a major grant from the U.S. Department of Energy worth $1.266 million to conduct fundamental research in elementary particle physics. The grant, which is spread over three years, will support research in experimental particle physics led by Drs. Flera Rizatdinova, Alexander Khanov and Joseph Haley as well as theoretical physics research led by Drs. Satya Nandi and Kaladi Babu. Rizatdinova is a professor of physics and the leader of the high energy experimental physics program at OSU, Khanov is an associate professor of physics and Haley is an assistant professor of physics at OSU. All three are involved in the international ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland, and have contributed to the discovery of a new fundamental particle, the Higgs boson. Their current research focuses on searching for new fundamental particles associated with supersymmetry as well as very heavy, yet-to-be-seen particles known as vector-like quarks. The OSU team is also involved in the upgrade of the ATLAS detector scheduled for the near future. Nandi, the principal investigator of this grant, and Babu are Regents Professors in the physics department. Their research focuses on new theories leading to new particles and phenomena that may be discovered at the Large Hadron Collider. Such theories include new types of Higgs bosons, new dimensions beyond the known three, supersymmetry and unification of particles and forces. This Department of Energy grant will also support theoretical explorations in neutrino physics, in particular, new phenomena that may be revealed in the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE) which is under construction in the US. This experiment involves neutrino beams - beams of elusive particles that rarely interact - shot from the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) near Chicago and detected in a deep underground mine in South Dakota some 1,300 km away, and looks for quantum entanglements of different species of neutrinos. Babu is currently a Distinguished Fermilab Scholar and spends time there in the summer for research collaboration, along with his students. This grant will enhance the participation of the OSU high energy physics group in research at the world's highest energy particle accelerator and will support students and postdoctoral fellows, with some stationed at the CERN laboratory. It will also enhance OSU participation in research at the "intensity frontier" associated with neutrino oscillations, and will enhance collaborations with Fermilab and will provide opportunities for OSU students to participate in research at the national lab.
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John Romo is carried through the streets of Adarkwa, Ghana, during his Chief ceremony. Photo Courtesy of AgriCorps. Two Oklahoma State University alumni and one master’s student are helping developing nations better understand agriculture through an organization called AgriCorps. In 2012, OSU agricultural economics alumnus Trent McKnight created AgriCorps because of his interest in international agricultural education, which began when he visited Japan as the 2000-01 National FFA Association President. McKnight said his interest continued to grow as he attended The London School of Economics for graduate school and worked in Iraq and Liberia. “While in Liberia, I worked with 4-H Liberia,” McKnight said. “The organization was similar to 4-H in America but was in need of a significant amount of support to have a better program.” This led McKnight to start AgriCorps, a program that connects American volunteers to the demand for experiential, school-based agricultural education in developing countries, he said. Members of AgriCorps must have a college degree in agriculture, have 4-H or FFA experience, and have a background in production agriculture, McKnight said. AgriCorps members have three roles: agricultural education teacher, 4-H club leader and agricultural extension agent to both the youth and adult farming populations of their villages, he said. McKnight said AgriCorps strives to have three impacts: develop globally minded American agricultural professionals with experience living abroad, develop young leaders in developing countries who are committed to farming as a science and a business, and improve food security in developing countries. AgriCorps had two pilot programs in 2012 and 2013 working with 4-H Liberia and each program lasted for one month, McKnight said. In July 2014, members of the first full AgriCorps were trained and ready to go to Liberia. Then, the Ebola virus struck Liberia and members had to be placed in a new location, he said. McKnight said AgriCorps connected with 4-H Ghana quickly and sent members to the West African nation to serve for 11 months. Trent McKnight and John Romo take a moment to show off their matching shirts. Photo Courtesy of AgriCorps. AgriCorps sent a second set of members in August 2015. One of the members is OSU agricultural communications alumna Hannah McCollom. McCollom said her interest in working with youth in developing countries began after a study-abroad trip to Brazil. “I remember meeting the kids there who virtually had nothing,” McCollom said. “They lived such simple lives, and they did not want anything. I kept thinking how much they could benefit from a leadership organization such as 4-H or FFA.” A couple of months after returning to the United States, McCollom heard about AgriCorps, but she said she did not really think about participating at first. McCollom said she started to consider joining AgriCorps closer to her graduation after she saw an opening and decided to join because of the support of friends, family and professors. While in Ghana, McCollom teaches agricultural education to approximately 50 junior high students. McCollom said her favorite part of being in Ghana and serving as an AgriCorps member has been the people. “The people here are extremely nice and welcoming,” McCollom said. “You will never get lost in Ghana. All you have to do is ask, and someone will be willing to help you.” However, moving to a developing country has not been without its difficulties, McCollom said, as the language barrier with her students and people living in her village has been a challenge. They speak a local language called Twi, which she said she is slowly learning. She also said washing her clothes by hand, taking bucket showers, and seeing free-range animals has been an adjustment. “Not many people would go off to work for an organization in a developing country,” McCollom said. “However, AgriCorps is a great organization that provides the support and tools necessary to be successful.” Hannah McCollom works with a student in her classroom. Photo Courtesy Hannah McCollom. In addition to McCollom, John Romo, a student in the OSU Master of International Agriculture program, served as an AgriCorps member in 2014. “My favorite part of serving in Ghana was building relationships,” Romo said. “Spending time with my students led me to great stories.” Romo said while living in Adarkwa, Ghana, he taught 50 junior high students and advised their 4-H club. They also started a nursery for cocoa and palm trees and had a garden bed for carrots. Romo left such an impact on the village of Adarkwa he was given the title of a Nkosuohene, which is a type of sub-chief in Akan chieftaincy, McKnight said. Romo said the elders in the community approached him about halfway through his service and wanted to meet with him. The elders told Romo they had never had someone from another country live and work alongside them as he did. They knew he could not stay in Ghana forever, but they wanted him to still be a part of their lives, Romo said. “The elders met with me a week prior to the sub-chief ceremony and told me about everything that would take place during the ceremony to make sure I was OK with it,” Romo said. “I told them ‘yes’ because it was part of their traditions and I respected their culture.” Romo said he spent the rest of the week mentally preparing for the sub-chief ceremony, which included powder and clay being poured all over his body, being carried throughout the town on the shoulders of the youth, and having a goat slaughtered at his feet with the blood from the goat then spread on his feet. “Receiving this title was not something I expected, and it was not a goal of mine,” Romo said. “I was shocked, very emotional, and honored.” Romo said even though he no longer lives in Ghana, he still helps the village of Adarkwa promote its economic development. Back in the United States, he said he stays in contact with his students, chiefs and farmers and speaks to someone in Adarkwa about two to three times a week. He said he hopes to visit Adarkwa every couple of years. As long as appropriate funding sources can be found, McKnight hopes to expand AgriCorps into more countries in the future, he said. AgriCorps is always looking for qualified individuals to contribute to the AgriCorps mission, he said. The impacts of AgriCorps mostly will be long term, McKnight said. However, he said the short-term impacts have been powerful and interesting, mentioning Romo being named a sub-chief. McKnight said he hopes one of the long-term impacts of AgriCorps will be the transfer of agricultural technology and methodology to adult farming populations in developing countries. “Through passion and agricultural education, countries can be transformed,” McKnight said. Hanna McCollom teaches her students while building strong personal relationships. Photo Courtesy of Hannah McCollom. By: Author: Madison Andersen
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Clint Dodson (left) and Brad Lahman, built their business partnership in a year after meeting through the Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance. Photo by Raney Lovorn. The New Product Development Center at Oklahoma State University has offered engineering services to Oklahoma manufacturers and small businesses since 2002. “The NPDC has a history of helping Oklahoma manufacturers through affordable engineering services,” said Dan Tilley, former NPDC associate director and professor of agricultural economics. “We provide quality engineering services in the price range for small businesses.” Made possible by a joint venture between the OSU Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and the OSU College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology, the NPDC assists Oklahoma manufacturers with bringing their concepts to market. In 2015, the NPDC began a new partnership with the network of Oklahoma Small Business Development Centers to serve small businesses with an influence in technology. “Small business development centers are not limited to manufacturing,” said Barbara Bonner, SBDC associate business adviser in Durant, Okla. “We will help any small business in the state.” The centers help businesses start, expand, or survive, especially through financial management and marketing, Bonner said. SBDCs work together with other resources like OSU and the NPDC to meet the specific needs of each business. “The SBDC model fits the needs of the NPDC and manufacturers,” Tilley said. “It gives us a network of people who have business and marketing expertise and can help companies be innovators.” In recent years, the NPDC shifted from working on large engineering projects to focusing on client interactions and student experiences in multiple disciplines, Tilley said. As more agricultural economics and business student employees were added, the NPDC began working more with manufacturers and small businesses beyond product development. Students employed by the NPDC and SBDC are biosystems and agricultural engineering, agricultural economics, business, agricultural communications and engineering majors. Engineers and OSU faculty mentor the students to ensure the center follows the best available practices and to help students engage in the projects, Tilley said. “Students are important to the program because they have creative ideas and capacities,” Tilley said. “The program is important to students because they need to experience the real world.” Dillon Rapp, a senior agricultural economics and accounting double major, has worked for the NPDC since January 2013. He attributes his passion for helping people better their lives and their finances to his work assisting clients with their businesses at the center. “My favorite part about working at the NPDC is being able to work with real-world clients and seeing how much of an impact our office can have on their businesses,” Rapp said. “I have been fortunate enough to develop many relationships lasting far beyond my time at OSU.” Students involved at the NPDC and SBDC often become part of the workforce benefiting rural Oklahoma, Tilley said. The center exemplifies all three branches of the land-grant model for extension, research and teaching, he added. Kay Watson, an extension agent with the Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance, attested to the extension and engagement roles of the NPDC and the SBDC and their impact on her clients’ success. “SBDC provides engineering and business analysis services that small business owners can afford,” Watson said. “I see OSU as my biggest partner in helping manufacturers.” Dillon Rapp said his background in manufacturing stood out on his internship application at the NPDC and encouraged him to help other manufacturers. Photo by Raney Lovorn. By: Author: Raney Lovorn
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World-renowned ukulele performer to visit Stillwater
Whether you’re one of the millions who’ve seen him play the ukulele on YouTube or you simply appreciate his world-renowned talent, Jake Shimabukuro is sure to captivate you when he performs live at the OSU Seretean Center Concert Hall Tuesday, Oct. 17, at 8 p.m. As one of the most successful and talented ukulele players in history, Shimabukuro’s level of performance draws comparisons to Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis. His concerts feature original songs as well as unique arrangements of classics, such as “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Hallelujah.” “We’ve truly never had a performance like Jake Shimabukuro’s,” said Brandon Mitts, arts, culture and entertainment manager for OSU Allied Arts. “He is so talented on the ukulele, and he plays crowd-favorites, which is a combination that will please everyone in the audience.” A native of Hawaii, where he still resides, Shimabukuro started playing the ukulele at the age of four. He now performs more than 100 times a year, with audiences that have included Queen Elizabeth II. He has collaborated with artists including Jimmy Buffett, Bette Midler and Cyndi Lauper, and his music has topped Billboard’s World Music Charts on multiple occasions. Tickets for the performance range from $10 for children 12 and under to $20 for adults. Tickets can be purchased online at tickets.okstate.edu. For more information, contact the OSU Allied Arts office at (405) 744-7509 or firstname.lastname@example.org. This is the second of six performances hosted by OSU Allied Arts during the 2017-2018 season. For decades the OSU Allied Arts office has brought top-notch talent to the Oklahoma State University campus to enrich the lives of students and the general public through the arts. For more information about Allied Arts and Jake Shimabukuro, visit alliedarts.okstate.edu.
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The Centennial is Coming
OSU Collegiate 4-H members volunteer to dress up as Chris Clover and greet visitors at various college and community events. Photo by Abby Hendrickson. The first collegiate 4-H club established in the United States — the Oklahoma State University Collegiate 4-H Club — will celebrate its 100-year anniversary in 2016. “It started as a group of students, most of whom were rural youth who had been in 4-H,” said Charles Cox, retired state 4-H program leader. “It was called an after-dinner club, and students met to discuss rural issues and interact with early leaders in demonstration work from the Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College. It developed into the first student group on the OAMC campus.” The club, called Delta Sigma Alpha, originally was for agricultural extension scholarship recipients, according to the 1917 Redskin, the university’s yearbook. Most members were agricultural majors who eventually would return home to production agriculture or become demonstration cooperators with the new Cooperative Extension Service, Cox said. In 1924, the group was reorganized and renamed the Oklahoma OAMC 4-H Club. In 1926, the name became the Collegiate 4-H Club. Today, the club members strive to carry out its motto — “Continuing to share. Sharing to continue.” “The motto emphasizes the importance of citizenship and engagement through education and service,” Cox said. Ricki Schroeder, OSU agribusiness and agricultural leadership double major and 2014-15 OSU Collegiate 4-H Club president, said one of the parts he enjoys most about Collegiate 4-H is the community service. The club tries to do a project to impact the community or state, he said. The club has volunteered in the community with organizations like Mission of Hope, the Humane Society of Stillwater and Wings of Hope Family Crisis Services. “Every year, members do the tree decorating for a family through the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources Student Council,” Cox said. “They have helped with food drives, like the Homecoming Harvest Carnival and Hunt for Hunger.” Members volunteer to help 4-H clubs all over Oklahoma through officer training and other service projects. They also assist with the state 4-H Roundup and state 4-H judging contests. Collegiate 4-H is a noncompetitive environment. Unlike a traditional 4-H club, Cox said, members are motivated to focus on service and socialization. “We try to look at 4-H as a community organization,” Ricki Schroeder said. “We want to continue that. Even though we are in college, we try to not just be on campus but across the Stillwater community and the state.” The club has approximately 20 members and meets every other Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. in the 4-H Youth Development Building, said Tracy Beck, 4-H youth development programs coordinator. Through the club, students make friends on campus with similar interests, Beck said. “4-H has allowed me to have connections with not only people at Oklahoma State but also with people across the country,” Ricki Schroeder said. OSU Collegiate 4-H members come from several states. The club has a large percentage of freshmen from a wide variety of majors, Beck said. “4-H did so much for me and made an incredible impact on my life,” said Jerry Kiefer, founder and financial professional/ retirement planning specialist at Cornerstone Planning Group LLC and OSU Collegiate 4-H president in 1990-91. “I saw Collegiate 4-H as an opportunity to give back to the organization I so loved as well as the community.” Many of the Collegiate 4-H members were involved in 4-H together in the past, Cox said. Familiarity of the 4-H program draws people to the club, he added. “Collegiate 4-H is the first club I joined when I got to campus, and it’s been a great three years,” said Mandy Schroeder, OSU agricultural leadership major and 2015-16 OSU Collegiate 4-H president. Sarah Maass, a past Collegiate 4-H president, said the organization gave her a transition period between traditional 4-H and the workforce. Maass continued her involvement with the 4-H program through her job as a 4-H youth development agent in Kansas. Kiefer said he stays involved through serving on the Oklahoma 4-H Foundation. The foundation raises more than $100,000 per year in scholarship money for 4-H members. Beck said members can apply for a $500 Collegiate 4-H scholarship each year, which is supported by an endowed fund in the Oklahoma 4-H Foundation. “We have some members who were super active in high school and some who weren’t quite as active,” Beck said. “They all can do things on campus to be involved and make a difference.” Kiefer said he considered Collegiate 4-H a stepping stone in life. “We would like for Collegiate 4-H to be a home for freshmen who need a place to connect,” Beck said. Past 4-H membership is not required to join Collegiate 4-H, Beck said. “I couldn’t ask for a better organization to lead,” Mandy Schroeder said. “It has great members, and I’m honored to lead them into the centennial.” Collegiate 4-H is like a small family, Mandy Schroeder said. “It’s always important to have a heart for service, and you’ll be able to use that throughout your life,” Ricki Schroeder said. “Collegiate 4-H provides one way to continue a passion for service if you have it, or it provides a way to develop it.” This is the first and only fraternity for agricultural extension scholarship winners. Its purpose is to bind the scholarship students to the club work and create a scholarship loan fund to help needy student members (1917 Oklahoma A&M Redskin). Photo Courtesy of OSU Special Collections and University Archives. By: Author: Abby Hendrickson
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